SANTA ANA, Calif.
— UC Santa Barbara, one of the most prominent universities in the country, announced it has been awarded a $20 million research grant to develop technologies to enable the integration of social media data into information systems.
The project, dubbed the “Social Media Data Hub,” will utilize social media platforms and other digital infrastructure to enable data to be seamlessly shared between the university’s various departments and offices.
It will also help students learn more about their campuses and communities through the analysis of data.
“This is a fundamental shift in how we interact with the data that’s collected from us,” said UC Santa Barbara President John Jenkins.
UC San Diego Chancellor Mary Norwood is leading the project.
“It is our hope that this technology can enable the university to share with students how they are using UC San Diego, how they use their UC Santa Ana campuses, and how they interact with their fellow students on campus,” she said.
A consortium of more than 50 technology companies and academia, the Social Media Data Lab was awarded the grant in the first round of a larger $1.8 billion National Innovation Award for the field of social networking.
Other recipients included UC Irvine and UC San Francisco, as well as University of Southern California and UCLA.
Some of the technology used in the project include social media analytics firm Statista and the social analytics startup Quantify Mobile.
Jenkins said that while the research will continue to develop and expand, the goal is to be able to use data from social media for “enhanced communication, and improved student engagement and engagement among faculty and staff.”
The technology will be used to create an interactive dashboard that allows users to see how their social media habits are being used on campus, from campus-wide metrics to campus-specific indicators of student learning.
Its use is intended to be a tool for students and faculty to identify trends in the ways they engage with their campus, Jenkins said.
The university also plans to build an app that allows students to interact with other UC Santa Cruz students and staff through their smartphones, tablets and computers.
While the technology will help to bring data closer to the students, Jenkins also said the program will allow the university and its staff to have a better understanding of how UC San Luis Potosi is engaging students on its campuses.
This is part of a broader strategy by the university, Jenkins added.
Students and staff have used the Social Sciences Data Hub in the past, and UC Santa Rosa students will be able use the data in the same way that UC Santa Clarita students use social media to connect with each other, he said.